What Age Should a Child Go to the Dentist? You May Be Surprised

It's important to take your child to the dentist. But what age should a child go to the dentist? It's earlier than you think. Click here and find out more.

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Regular dentist visits are important for children starting at a very young age. Unfortunately, a significant number of children do not regularly visit the dentist and leave cavities untreated.

In fact, over 15 percent of children aged 2-17 have not seen the dentist over the past year. An even greater number of children leave cavities untreated. In a survey period from 2011 to 2014, nearly 19 percent of children aged 5 to 19 had untreated cavities.

The importance of taking your child to the dentist cannot be stressed enough. Many parents want to know what age should a child go to the dentist for the first time.

The answer is a surprise to many parents. Read on to learn more about what age should a child go to the dentist. Also, we'll explore the benefits of good dental habits in young children.

Why Do Young Children Need to Visit the Dentist?

The answer to this question seems fairly obvious, but some parents may question the need for regular dental visits for their children. For these parents, the baby teeth are simply going to fall out and regular dental care is not necessary.

For starters, dental visits help prevent and treat cavities and tooth decay. Far too many children suffer from tooth decay. In fact, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that more than 40 percent of children in kindergarten have tooth decay.

A failure to treat it can lead to pain and other indirect issues. Dental research indicates that healthy teeth help children chew more naturally and speak clearer.

Studies show that regular dentist visits at a young age lead to a healthier mouth later in life. Along with multiple brushings per day, visiting the dentist instills good habits in your children. Your child is likely to continue these good dental habits as they grow into an adult.

What Age Should a Child Go to the Dentist?

Now that it is established that children should regularly see a dentist, it is time to discuss what age should a child go to the dentist. The right time for a baby to see the dentist is not long after birth.

In fact, both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Dental Association (ADA) agree that a baby should see the dentist after the appearance of the first tooth. The AAP and ADA both concur that a dental visit should be scheduled right after your child turns age 1.

There are some skeptical parents that may think this is too early. However, a dental check-up at age 1 serves a few important benefits.

One benefit is that the dentist provides valuable information on how to care for a young child's teeth. The dentist wants to work with the parents to ensure the baby is cavity-free as he or she gets older.

In addition, the dentist will also cover bad habits that contribute to cavities and tooth decay. Allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle of juice or milk, for example, is something the dentist will advise against. After the first tooth breaks through, the dentist also advises breastfeeding mothers to stop on-demand feedings during the night.

The dentist will instruct you how to brush baby teeth and other important oral health tips. Your dentist can also help you break a child's habit of thumb sucking or pacifier dependence. Lastly, the dentist will encourage the transition away from a bottle and towards a cup.

What Should You Expect at the First Dentist Visit?

Many parents fear that their child will be scared and unwilling to cooperate with the dentist. However, the first appointment typically goes better than the parent anticipates.

One reason is that dentists have experience dealing with babies and toddlers. They are friendly and help the child get comfortable by showing off dental tools and gadgets.

Some parents seek out tips for a successful first visit. Dentists suggest eating and napping before the visit to eliminate some common causes of crankiness.

Another suggestion is to leave siblings at home because they tend to cause a distraction. Lastly, bring the child's favorite blanket or toy to promote comfort.

How Often Should a Child Go to the Dentist?

Once the first visit is out of the way, the next question is how often should a child visit the dentist. Like adults, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a check-up every 6 months.

This interval is proven to be the most successful in preventing tooth decay and cavities. It is possible for the check-up interval to be more frequent. In special cases, the dentist may want to see your child a few more times per year for monitoring.

How Can Parents Promote Good Dental Health at Home?

Many do not realize that good home care starts at birth. Parents should start off by cleaning the newborn's gums with a soft, wet cloth or infant toothbrush.

When the first tooth erupts through the gums, it is time to start brushing your child's teeth twice per day. Make sure to invest in an age-appropriate toothbrush that is small enough to reach the back without hurting them.

Young children are known to swallow toothpaste, which is generally frowned upon. For this reason, use a small smear of toothpaste until they understand to spit the excess in the sink.

The dentist may notice that your child is not getting enough fluoride. They may prescribe a fluoride supplement to overcome this deficiency.

Another area for consideration is mouth protection during sports activities. Children are starting to play sports like soccer at ages as early as 2.

If this is the case, your child should be given a custom-fitted mouthpiece to protect against injury. A mouthpiece will protect your child's teeth, gums, and cheeks.

Wrapping Up

Regular dentist visits are imperative to the dental health of babies and toddlers. By bringing your child to the dentist, you reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay.

Experts agree that the first visit should take place before the child's first birthday. If you want to learn more about what age should a child go to the dentist, please contact us to schedule an appointment today.